From Lisbon to Lagos

For a while we’ve been wanting to cycle from the very North of Portugal to the very south. Unfortunately we never managed to get the time to do it in one go, so we’ve been splitting it up in sections and we do in when we have a few days available and we manage to get our bikes in Portugal.

The Eurovelo 1 starts in the North of Portugal and goes to the very south of Portugal before crossing Spain, France, the UK, Ireland, Scotland and then all the way to northern Norway. We are less ambitious and just aim to cycle the Portuguese section.

We started in Lisbon and wanted to go South. The south west of Portugal is in our opinion one of Europe’s best kept secrets. But the cycle from Lisbon to Setúbal is not the most enjoyable, so we just got a comfortable train from Lisbon to Setúbal and then a ferry to Tróia and then cycled from there. The ferry is nice and easy for bicycles and we we even managed to spot some dolphins.

From Setúbal we cycled all the way to Lagos following the Eurovelo 1 route. This is advertised as a cycle path, but we did struggle with our 32 mm tires. The total elevation climbed was not very big, but in some sections the gradient was too much for us to be able to cycle and we had to dismount and walk our bikes. This is a path designed for mountain bikes and not for touring bikes. Still, the views were very nice, the headwind was strong and the experience worth it.

Day 1

We cycled from Tróia to the Santo André Camping site. The weather at this point was still nice. We were cycling in the main road but there was very little traffic as this was off peak time for this area and most drivers gave us plenty of space when overtaking. We got to St. Andre in time for a beer at the beach, but we started to feel the weather turning and a strong wind starting to blow as we setup our tent and prepared to have dinner and sleep.

Day 2

We woke up and we could feel the weather was not going to be great. It was very cloudy and the wind was starting to pick up. Our plan was to cycle as much as possible today so catch up on some distance. We cycled for a few hours, but then it started to pour down rain. We stopped under a highway tunnel at some point to put on our rain gear, and three different gave us three weather predictions, so we just decided to continue cycling as it looked like it wasn’t going to stop anytime soon.

After about an hour of cycling in the rain we finally got to Sines. We stopped for lunch in a small so we could dry our clothes and get warm. After lunch the rain stopped and we managed to cycle to Porto Côvo. This ended up being only about a 40 km cycle, but we had a number of unexpected obstacles. The road was kind of terrible and we even had to cycle in a highway for about 400 m. At the end of the highway the police stopped us but we got away with a warning, but we didn’t really have any other place to go. In the end we felt did the best we could with the conditions we had, so we had a well deserved dinner in Porto Côvo. We were the only people at the camping site that day, so we choose a place behind a service house so we were sheltered from the strong winds.

Day 3

We woke up and felt the weather was still cold, but at least was not raining and the wind was not so strong. Since we didn’t cover so much distance the previous day, we planned to get to Aljezur. That was about a 80 km cycle with some steep inclines at the end.

We managed to get to the camping site near Aljezur just as the wind started to get really strong, but luckily for us this time, it was tailwind. We bought some noodles at a supermarket, went to the campsite and crashed after eating some chocolate.

Day 4

We needed to get to Lagos on our last day because we had booked our train tickets from there, so we knew this day was going to be difficult. Especially because we knew there were again some steep hills to climb. In the end this turned out to be a very difficult day, but not because of the distance travelled and more because of the conditions of the roads. This was clearly not a route for our 32 mm tires, but this last section proved to be even harder. Very loose gravel and steep inclines that some cars would have trouble climbing. The last section from Vila do Bispo to Lagos was frustrating as the path was marked as a cycle path, but it was winding road with very loose gravel and very steep hills that would just end up descending again and then go up like a bad taste roller coaster.

We finally got to Lagos and we decided our reward this time would be a proper hotel and a nice meal at a restaurant. The next day we got the train to Lisbon and we felt happy we conquered the southwest part of the Eurovelo 1 “cycle” route.

Despite the setbacks, the scenery was very nice and it always feels very rewarding to use our own energy to ride through a route that we travelled so many times inside a car.